I find we often exhort folks to be a certain way or do a particular thing, but leave them with little or no idea about what we mean. One of these is the invitation to “be contemplative.”
Of course, the contemplative life can be (and has been) described at some depth. For example, there are levels of it in Merton’s writings that I doubt I will ever grasp, much less experience.
But thanks to folks like Merton, I am reminded that the contemplative life is not reserved for a few, but available to us all–even if we do not go as deeply into it as others may. In this post, I want to pose questions we can use in discerning our disposition toward a contemplative life…
(1) Do we recognize Mystery as a reality to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved?
(2) Do we believe truth is almost always a union of opinions rather that the triumph of one view?
(3) Are we able to live in the midst of tension, or do we have to “get comfortable” as quickly as possible?
(4) Are we as motivated to ask questions as we are to receive answers?
(5) Can we enter into protracted explorations, or do we strive for quick fixes?
6) Do we find silence and solitude to be the “furnace of transformation” (Nouwen’s term), or do we prefer noise and stimulation?
(7) When we say we have more faith than we used to have, do we mean we have more trust or more explanations?
(8) Are we able to dream, or only able to deal with “the facts?”
(9) Do we view ourselves more as learners than teachers–beginners more than graduates?
(10) Are we orienting ourselves inwardly and outwardly by the two great commandments as expressed through the fruit of the Spirit?